Serving Sitka, Angoon, Port Alexander, Tenakee Springs, Kake & Pelican!  •  Phone: 747-7595  •  Fax: 888-897-9397  •  Email: shop@sitkasoup.com

Register RSS Feed  | 

Comments Off on Our Town – November 29, 2018

Our Town – November 29, 2018

| Northern Lights, Our Town, Rain, Seasons, Weather, Winter | November 29, 2018

The Soupster contemplates the relationship between the Northern Lights, cold & rain

Originally published November 3, 2011

“When was the last time you saw the Northern Lights over Our Town?” the Soupster asked his friend Rudy, as the two men reclined on the porch at the back of Rudy’s house. Rudy was a high school science teacher and an observant man, and the Soupster valued his opinion.

“Seems to me like a long while ago,” Rudy agreed.

The angle of the yard gave the two men a good view of the night sky. Passing clouds exposed a few isolated stars now and then as they talked.

“Maybe four or five years since one of those real light shows that have you muttering `I can’t believe what I’m seeing,’” said the Soupster. “And the next day everybody is talking about the Northern Lights wherever you go.”

“If people did not see the Northern Lights, then you have to explain what you were doing up in the middle of the night,” Rudy laughed.

“This is true,” said the Soupster.

“You know what the police say,” Rudy quoted. “Anybody up at 3 a.m. is probably up to no good.”

“This is also true.”

“I was busted by my kid,” said Rudy. “I woke her up early one morning for her to see a really good Northern Lights. She was cold and never fully woke up. Her mother complained big-time and said, `What kind of father are you?’ So the next time we had Northern Lights I didn’t wake her up and the kid was mad and said `Why didn’t you wake me up?’”

The Soupster laughed and sank down deeper into padded chaise. “Well, there’s the Wet Alaska and the Cold Alaska,” he said. “In Cold Alaska, they see the Northern Lights regularly.”

“My experience,” said Rudy “is that Wet Alaska may not be colder than Cold Alaska, but it can feel colder. I once saw a Fairbanks college kid in shorts, at a dry 20 below and I bet he would not do that here on a windblown night of freezing rain.”

“It’s not unusual for a West Coast state to have two completely different climate zones,” said the Soupster. “There’s wet western Washington and western Oregon, each state turning drier and hotter as you go east.”

“Of course, California, like Alaska, is split more North and South,” the Soupster said. “Deserts down South and forests up North.”

“The opposite of here,” said Rudy. “Great swaths of Interior Alaska get so little precipitation the area qualifies as a desert. Then we have this huge temperate rain forest here in the South.”

“You’re a smart guy,” said the Soupster.

“As long as you do not count the mistakes,” said Rudy.

(ED NOTE:  Some folks’ wish to send a little of Sitka’s abundant rain down to Northern California, thankfully, came true on Friday 11/23 – the rain did help to nearly extinguish the wildfires, though, sadly, has also slowed the work of searchers.)

46 total views, 0 today

Comments Off on Our Town – November 1, 2018

Our Town – November 1, 2018

| Fall, Our Town, Rain, Seasons, Weather | November 1, 2018

The Soupster hears about seasonal remedies.

Originally published December 1, 2016

There was a long line of people waiting at the airport, but none of them were flying that day. Instead, they waited to submit their names in the annual Customer Commensuration Event, where the airline awarded pairs of unrestricted tickets to three writers of the best essays titled, “Why I Need to Leave Our Town This Fall.”

Ah, autumn in Our Town, the Soupster thought, as he waited in line clutching his essay. A dark and wet autumn in Our Town, indeed. Like trouble piling on itself, the rain caused there to be more rain.

“It doesn’t rain, it pours,” a wise man once said.

“Oh, it gets better after Thanksgiving,” said Shirley “Bo” Burley, standing behind the Soupster and reading his mind. “Once the Christmas lights go up and cut the gloom, our mood lightens, too.”

“True, Bo,” said the Soupster. “To me, the absolute worst is the day after they change the clocks and instead of it getting dark at 5pm, which you’ve just gotten used to, it’s dark by 4pm, which is an unreasonable time for it to get dark.”

“Never lived up north, have you?” Bo asked.

“No,” said the Soupster.

“Wimp!” said Bo. “How would you like to go through a couple of months when the sun doesn’t make it over the horizon?”

“You’re just determined to lighten up my mood, aren’t you, Bo?” said the Soupster.

“Here’s a good `Coping with the Fall’ story,” said Bo, barreling on and accepting the Soupster’s implied consent. “You know Cleon, the computer guy?”

The Soupster nodded.

“He used to make house calls and one day, in the doldrums between Alaska Day and Thanksgiving, he got a call from that cute many-sided house out the road,” Bo explained.

“So Cleon strapped his small repair case to his bike and set out. Cleon loved his bike, but only a few minutes into his ride, he questioned his decision to take it. The temperature hovered right around freezing —  depending on the microclimate Cleon traversed, the rain passed back and forth between liquid water and some snowish kind of thing. You know how it is, Soupster.

“As a shivering Cleon mounted the stairs to the house, he could hear music. Jimmy Buffett. Margaritaville. The door opened to a big, sweating guy wearing a toga. Inside, it was 90 degrees. There were people sprawled all over the sand-colored carpet. All their drinks had little bamboo umbrellas.  A cardboard palm tree had been erected and a stuffed parrot perched on a corrugated branch.

Without a word, the big man showed Cleon into his office where a computer sat on the desktop. Cleon got to work. After about a half hour, Cleon stood up and stretched, another cyber problem solved.

Just then, the big man returned with a large can of tropical punch and two glasses. Cleon told him the machine was all fixed.

“Good job, fine fellow!” he said to Cleon. “I am the ruler of my Kingdom. I control the weather here. And now, thanks to you, I can also surf the Internet again!”

“So,” the man said with a wink. “When it rains, I reign.” He held up a glass and dispensed from the can of punch. “And when it pours, I pour.”

47 total views, 0 today

Comments Off on Our Town – May 31, 2018

Our Town – May 31, 2018

| Our Town, Small Town Stuff, Sunshine, Tourists, Weather | May 31, 2018

The Soupster is called out on his talkativeness & put to the test.

Originally published July 12, 2012

Carrie told the Soupster he talked too much and her criticism stung. The Soupster knew he could go on and on – maybe a tiny, little bit? — but he didn’t know his friend had been suffering. And for “quite a while,” no less.

“I bet you can’t keep your conversation to a minimum even for one day,” Carrie threw down the gauntlet. “Not even for one whole day.”

“I can,” the Soupster insisted. “And I will!”

Today was the day. The first mission of the new, zip-lipped Soupster was to check the mail at the post office. As the Soupster strolled downtown, he had to duck into a few storefronts to avoid fellow chatterboxes who might stress-test his mettle.

“Soupman!” The call came from Charlie, a hiking buddy who, unfortunately, happened to be in a store the Soupster had judged free of customers. “Tell me what’s new with the Man in the Can?”

“Not much,” said the Soupster, wishing he could have thought of a one-word answer. “Gotta go,” he said slipping out of the store.

Out of the frying pan and into the fire? Two busfuls of visitors hit the sidewalk and poured around the Soupster like a human wave.

Hide in plain sight? The Soupster pulled his cap low on his forehead and attempted to avoid eye contact with the cheery migrants surrounding him.

No use! The Soupster felt his lapels being patted and looked down into the face of an older man wearing a tag that said, “Hi! I’m Horace!”

“Hi, I’m Horace,” he stated the obvious, grasping the Soupster’s hand and shaking it vigorously. “I’m new to these shores.”

“Hi, Horace,” said the Soupster.

“Yup, this is some different place,” Horace said. “Where’s all the big box chain stores? Don’t you have any big box chain stores?”

“Nope,” said the Soupster.

“Our bus driver said he was taking us all over town but we only went five or six miles one way and then seven or eight the other. That can’t be all the road you have.”

“Yup,” said the Soupster, zipping his lips so tight he could taste metal.

“And this rain I keep hearing about,” Horace plunged on. “It’s certainly not raining now. Is going to rain soon? Am I going to get wet? I mean, isn’t this town too nice to be built by people who get rained on every day?”

As the Soupster moaned silently, a beam of sunlight illuminated a break in the throng of tourists ahead. “Yup,” said the Soupster, shaking Horace’s hand. “Nope,” he added. And then the Soupster escaped.

150 total views, 0 today

Comments Off on Our Town – August 10, 2017

Our Town – August 10, 2017

| Lower 48, Our Town, Relationships, Relatives, Seasons, Summer, Temperature | August 10, 2017

The Soupster talks to someone who can’t see the forest, because of one.

 “No, Uncle Bob, I’m not aware,” said the Soupster into the receiver of his landline phone, “just how hot your weather is right now.”

That was an outright lie. In fact, the Soupster knew. He regularly enjoyed playing a weather game called “Too Hot!.” The game involved reading the list of daily temperatures in the newspaper or watching the highs and lows of major U.S. cities scroll by on television and stopping at each one 80 degrees or higher to think aloud “Too Hot!” Starting in the Spring, various cities would pass into the realm of “Too Hot!” until, by August, most of the country qualified. It seemed as though too many cities were getting “Too Hot!” too early in the year and staying simmering too late into the fall. The Soupster knew from his game that Uncle Bob’s area had been hitting triple digits all week – shattering records set in horse-and-buggy days.

“That sounds terrible, Uncle Bob,” the Soupster said to his mother’s brother’s description of clothing turning sweat-soaked in minutes, engines overheating on gridlocked streets, regional power outages making air conditioners and refrigerators useless.

Of all the things the Soupster loved about Our Town and knew he would miss the most, its mild summertime temperatures ranked tops. Our Town and neighboring villages were maybe the last places in the country where the Soupster could live without ever having taken his air conditioner out of the box – it sat in the back of the Soupster’s closet like a survivalist’s cache of water pouches, freeze-dried Stroganoff and space blankets.

“What’s that, Uncle Bob?” the Soupster asked, registering what his relative had just said. “Your car was stolen when?”

During the heat wave and power outage, Bob explained, making it infinitely more difficult for him and his wife to haul ice back to their house to try and save the food in the chest freezer. The lack of transportation made it impossible for the couple to go the lakefront or other cooler escapes. Their usual last resorts – the movie theaters and the International House of Pancakes — were dark because of the blackout. Police found Bob’s car finally – minus hubcaps and, oddly, head rests.

“Why doesn’t it matter anymore, Uncle Bob?” asked the Soupster. “What do you mean `Eminent Domain’?”

Uncle Bob said that he worried about a developer who wanted to build condos right where his neighborhood stood. Meant jobs and higher taxes for the city. In New Jersey, one city had condemned some people’s houses with exactly the same outcome in mind and the U.S. Supreme Court backed the city and the developer. The city always wanted more people. More people just meant longer lines, Bob complained, at the market, the bank – even to vote. Of course, floods and tornadoes threatened, too. Along with the pesticides in the groundwater.

“Uncle Bob, you really have got to consider moving somewhere you find more pleasant.” said the Soupster.

“Never happen, Nephew,” Bob said. “Where else are real estate prices this low?

444 total views, 0 today

Comments Off on Our Town – December 1, 2016

Our Town – December 1, 2016

| Fall, Our Town, Rain, Seasons, Weather | December 1, 2016

The Soupster hears about seasonal remedies.

There was a long line of people waiting at the airport, but none of them were flying that day. Instead, they waited to submit their names in the annual Customer Commensuration Event, where the airline awarded pairs of unrestricted tickets to three writers of the best essays titled, “Why I Need to Leave Our Town This Fall.”

Ah, autumn in Our Town, the Soupster thought, as he waited in line clutching his essay. A dark and wet autumn in Our Town, indeed. Like trouble piling on itself, the rain caused there to be more rain.

“It doesn’t rain, it pours,” a wise man once said.

“Oh, it gets better after Thanksgiving,” said Shirley “Bo” Burley, standing behind the Soupster and reading his mind. “Once the Christmas lights go up and cut the gloom, our mood lightens, too.”

“True, Bo,” said the Soupster. “To me, the absolute worst is the day after they change the clocks and instead of it getting dark at 5pm, which you’ve just gotten used to, it’s dark by 4pm, which is an unreasonable time for it to get dark.”

“Never lived up north, have you?” Bo asked.

“No,” said the Soupster.

“Wimp!” said Bo. “How would you like to go through a couple of months when the sun doesn’t make it over the horizon?”

“You’re just determined to lighten up my mood, aren’t you, Bo?” said the Soupster.

“Here’s a good `Coping with the Fall’ story,” said Bo, barreling on and accepting the Soupster’s implied consent. “You know Cleon, the computer guy?”

The Soupster nodded.

“He used to make house calls and one day, in the doldrums between Alaska Day and Thanksgiving, he got a call from that cute many-sided house out the road,” Bo explained.

“So Cleon strapped his small repair case to his bike and set out. Cleon loved his bike, but only a few minutes into his ride, he questioned his decision to take it. The temperature hovered right around freezing —  depending on the microclimate Cleon traversed, the rain passed back and forth between liquid water and some snowish kind of thing. You know how it is, Soupster.

“As a shivering Cleon mounted the stairs to the house, he could hear music. Jimmy Buffett. Margaritaville. The door opened to a big, sweating guy wearing a toga. Inside, it was 90 degrees. There were people sprawled all over the sand-colored carpet. All their drinks had little bamboo umbrellas.  A cardboard palm tree had been erected and a stuffed parrot perched on a corrugated branch.

Without a word, the big man showed Cleon into his office where a computer sat on the desktop. Cleon got to work. After about a half hour, Cleon stood up and stretched, another cyber problem solved.

Just then, the big man returned with a large can of tropical punch and two glasses. Cleon told him the machine was all fixed.

“Good job, fine fellow!” he said to Cleon. “I am the ruler of my Kingdom. I control the weather here. And now, thanks to you, I can also surf the Internet again!”

“So,” the man said with a wink. “When it rains, I reign.” He held up a glass and dispensed from the can of punch. “And when it pours, I pour.”

610 total views, 0 today

Comments Off on Our Town – September 22, 2016

Our Town – September 22, 2016

| Crazy Theories, Fall, Our Town, Rain, Seasons, Weather | September 21, 2016

The Soupster gets Saturated.

Originally published September 7, 2006

Thick drops of rain beat a brisk rhythm on the aluminum roof over the covered area of Suzie’s porch where the Soupster sat. All summer long, the Soupster had bravely faced the preponderance of precipitation and the rarity of sunny days with humor, understanding and flexibility. But there and then — against the roof over his head — fell the one big raindrop that caused the barrel to overflow, like the straw that broke the camel’s back, and the Soupster finally became Saturated.

In his last lucid moment, the Soupster had been thinking about a short story written more than 50 years before – a very unscientific science fiction story about a group of astronauts who crash land on Venus – the planet. On Venus, as in Our Town this summer, it rains constantly, proposed the story’s author, Ray Bradbury. And, like the Soupster, the four astronauts who survive the crash set out bravely into the constant rain to find a Sun Dome, which is just like it sounds — an Industrial Strength Light Bulb Beach. Without finding the dome, the astronauts would go mad from rain pounding constantly against their skulls.

“Here’s your hot chocolate,” said Suzie, appearing on the porch with two steaming mugs. “No marshmallow in yours.”

The Soupster regarded Suzie with as much recognition as he would one of the astronauts on Venus. Through the pounding between his ears in time with the hammering of the rain against the roof, he could not make out what she was saying.

“It was a mizzle, a downpour, a fountain, a whipping at the eyes, an undertow at the ankles;” Bradbury had written, “it was a rain to drown all rains and the memory of rains. It came by the pound and by the ton.”

The Soupster looked blankly at Suzie and then out into space.

“Oh, for goodness sakes,” muttered Suzie. Born and raised in Our Town, she knew just what to do when someone became Saturated. She set down the two steaming mugs on a wooden table away from the Soupster, so he would not, in his helpless state, burn himself.

Suzie went room-to-room in her house and gathered up an armful of lamps: table models, clip-ons, three-way bulbs, lanterns and reading lights. She brought it all out under the covered area of the porch, along with two extension cords and several power strips.

While she did, the Soupster continued his nightmare of tramping through the jungles of Venus in the blinding downpour. “(The rain) shrank men’s hands into the hands of wrinkled apes,” wrote Bradbury. “It rained a solid, glassy rain and it never stopped.” The rattling and thumping on the roof drowned out Suzie’s grunts as she hooked up the complicated bank of lamps and power strips, all aimed at the Soupster.

“Now!” she shouted above the din and threw a switch that bathed the entire covered area of the porch in warm yellow light.

The Soupster leaped to his feet. “The Sun Dome!” he cried. “I made it!”

“Goodness gracious – there’s no Sun Dome,” said Suzie. “You’re on the porch at my house. You just got Saturated. Now drink your hot chocolate.”

649 total views, 0 today

Comments Off on Our Town – August 13, 2015

Our Town – August 13, 2015

| Craftsman, Our Town, Rain, Uncategorized, Water, Weather, Work | August 13, 2015

The Soupster learns secrets of keeping dry.

“Bang…Bang, Bang…Bang,” sang the hammer, as its owner, Our Town contractor Mike “Curt” Curtis, pounded nails. Curtis was working on the front of a house right on the road the Soupster passed on his morning walks.

The Soupster had taken the same walk for years and had the luxury of watching as the homes and yards slowly changed. Having the time to literally watch the paint peel – well, not literally – the Soupster noticed changes that even the homeowners might miss.

But it would be hard to miss the pile of warped shingles and pieces of soaked and rotted plywood lying in front of the house. Our Town’s ever-present rain had worked its way under the shingles, causing them to warp. The rain then worked its way deeper and deeper, causing the rot.

The Soupster stopped in the street and regarded the pile. Curtis, descending a ladder, regarded the Soupster.

“Grody plywood, Curt,” the Soupster said.

“I wish it was just plywood,” said Curtis, jumping to the ground. “It’s OSB plywood – oriented strand board. It’s made up of little flakes of wood all held together with layers of glue. Soaks up water like a sponge. All the builders here hate it. They call it Beaver Poop* Board.”

* ed. note: Poop is used here instead of another common scatological term that starts with “S” — for obvious reasons.

“Goodness!” said the Soupster, as a few drops of rain struck his bare head.

“Then,” said Curtis, taking off his hat. He smoothed his hair and replaced the hat. “They thought they put enough ventilation in the attic.”

“They thought wrong?” asked the Soupster, as the rain fell harder.

“And with the foundation,” said Curt, nodding. “People don’t understand that ventilating the foundation is important, just like the attic.”

“It is? I mean, they don’t?” said the Soupster, sounding out of his depth. The rain dripping down his face looked like cartoon beads of sweat.

Curtis laughed. “Nervous, Soupster?” he said. “Your house have any secrets I need to know about? I already fixed your porch, right?”

Curtis had saved the Soupster’s house from damage when he noticed that the back porch had been tied directly into the house, instead of leaving a small space between them for drainage. Without that simple fix, rot would have started where water was trapped at the point where the porch connected with the house. The rot would then have spread.

“Well, it’s no secret, Curt,” the Soupster said, “that I admire you and all of Our Town’s builders for knowing these tricks to keep the rain from biting us civilians on our bottoms.”

“That’s nice of you to say, Soupster,” said Curtis as the rain began to pound even heavier.

“Any more good advice for me?” the Soupster asked, raising his voice to be heard.

“I’d buy a hat!” said Curtis

948 total views, 1 today

Comments Off on Our Town – September 11, 2014

Our Town – September 11, 2014

| Our Town, Rain, Seasons, Weather | September 11, 2014

The Soupster helps rename Autumn.

“Wet enough for ya’?” the Soupster asked his friend, Rex Havick, who was shaking off rainwater like a dog in the mudroom, before hanging his slicker on a peg.

“It’s water torture,” Rex countered, as he stepped into the house. “One drip is fine, but a billion’ll drive you crazy.”

“I like the sound of the rain,” said the Soupster. “Remember our culture’s brief flirtation with negative ion generators?”

“Negative ions,” said Rex, “that are produced by things like waterfalls, rainbows and whiskers on kittens.”

“You remember the song!” said a delighted Soupster. “Hey, Rex, come over here by the window and sit down.”

The large window faced the ocean, wild that day, churning and absorbing the billions of gallons of rainwater. The two humans stood transfixed at the flurry of whitecaps whipped by the wind, but the ocean was unimpressed. “Meh,” it said.

The Soupster cranked open the window and bid Rex sit down in the wicker chair by the table with the potted calendula. “Shhhh,” he said, as Rex took his seat. The Soupster sat beneath the philodendron.

Outside the window was a porch covered with stiff, thin fiberglass panels. The rain hitting the porch roof sounded like a high-medium tom-tom drum, which varied in speed and pitch with the size of the raindrops and the velocity they were falling at.

“Cool, huh?” said the Soupster.

“Very negative ion,” said Rex and the two men lapsed into silence.

A passing squall kicked up the volume and speed of the downpour and Rex grunted with appreciation. The amount of rain overwhelmed the gutters of the Soupster’s house and water fell like a curtain from the edge of the porch roof. The men had to raise their voices a little to be heard.

“So much water,” said the Soupster. “Meanwhile, my friends tell me the drought is so bad where they live, people are painting their burned lawns green.”

“Like everything else, those that got enough already, get more,” Rex said, “and those without don’t,”

“Why is that?” asked the Soupster, but Rex’s answer was drowned out as the rain fell even harder and even faster and much, much, louder.

“Rain like this can’t just be falling,” said Rex, “it’s got some kind of propulsion behind it. They call the season Fall, but they really ought to be calling it “Throwing it at us.”

“What?” asked the Soupster over the din.

“I said they should call the season “Throwing it at us!” yelled Rex.

967 total views, 0 today

Comments Off on Our Town – July 31, 2014

Our Town – July 31, 2014

| Our Town, Rain, Weather | July 30, 2014

The Soupster hears strange murmurs.

“There!” Mike pointed out the tiny purple star of a fireweed blossom, opening high on the stalk. “When the blossoms reach the top, summer is ending.” The Soupster regarded his friend bending over the plant, growing alongside the totem path.

“The raindrops have been getting bigger lately,” he said in agreement. “And starting to angle sideways, a little. Season’s a-changing, Mike.”

The two men walked on in silence. The soft forest floor muffled the sound of their steps and they passed by the totem poles without waking them.

“Do you miss having four distinct seasons?” the Soupster asked his friend, who hailed originally from Back East. “Real hot weather and real cold weather?”

“I don’t.” Mike answered. “I like Our Town’s three seasons better. Three seasons: light all the time, dark all the time and exactly half and half.”

“And exactly half and half occurs twice a year, right? Between dark all the time and light all the time.”

“You got it, Soupster,” Mike said.

They were quiet again. All around the two men, still dripping from that morning’s rain, much of the vegetation was deep in cogitation – probably chemically – laboring to decide whether it was time to start switching over to “dormant” or whether they could wrest a little more benefit out of this summer.The Soupster thought he could hear them murmuring

“You hear that?” he asked Mike.

“Hear what?” Mike said.

Then they both heard it, on the breeze, sounding like: “esaelp dens…”

“I hear it,” said Mike and the two men looked around them.

The next breeze brought the murmur again: “esaelp dens su nair, dens su nair.”

Mike and the Soupster quickened their pace. In an open area around the next turn a lone man stood looking at the sky and saying “Esaelp dens su nair, dens su nair. Stol fo nair!”

The man realized he was bring watched.

“May I respectfully ask what you are doing?” said the Soupster.

“My sister is getting married on the 23rd and she’s terrified it’s going to rain and ruin everything. I promised her I’d do what I could to keep it from raining that day.”

“OK, but in what language were you asking for it not to rain?” asked Mike, stepping forward.

“English,” said the man. “And I was asking for it to rain, not not rain.”

“I thought your sister didn’t want it to rain?” asked the Soupster.

“Oh, I’m asking for rain backward,” said the man. “I thought if I asked for rain backward…”

“Then it wouldn’t rain!” said Mike.

“I don’t know how well your plan is going to work,” said the Soupster, with a sympathetic tone. “Maybe you could do something else also. Like a Plan B?”

“Last week, I tried doing a rain dance backward,” said the man. “But I hurt my leg.”

1325 total views, 1 today

Comments Off on Our Town – April 10, 2014

Our Town – April 10, 2014

| Abigail FitzGibbon, Children, Guest Written, Our Town, Rain, Relationships, Relatives, Weather | April 10, 2014

The Soupster discovers the secret to aging gracefully.

Living in Our Town as he did, the Soupster had experienced many, many rains in his lifetime. Nevertheless, he hadn’t seen a rain quite as intense as the one that had been showering Our Town for three long days now.

The Soupster stared morosely out of his car as he rolled down his street, fat raindrops hurling themselves onto his windows. Even before the rain, he’d been having a miserable week. He kept finding gray hairs in his hairbrush, he could see more wrinkles on his face every time he looked in the mirror and he’d forgotten the names of three people that he’d talked to today alone. He’d never thought of himself as the type to be paranoid about aging, but he couldn’t stop worrying.

As he turned into his driveway, a small figure – wearing a hot pink raincoat and dancing vigorously – caught his eye. Stepping hard on the brakes, the Soupster unbuckled his seatbelt and leaped out of the car.

As he got out, he could hear the figure’s high, clear voice joyfully yodeling, “-rious feeling, I’m hap-hap-happy ag- Oh, hi, Uncle Soupster!” The freckled face of Winter, his nine-year-old niece, grinned at him, brown curls poking out from under her raincoat’s hood.

“Winter, what are you doing here?” the Soupster asked.

“I’m staying with you while my parents are on vacation, remember, Uncle Soupster?” Winter told him, speaking slowly and carefully.

“I know that!” the Soupster exclaimed, exasperated. He wasn’t that far gone yet. “I mean, why are you dancing in the driveway?”

Winter shrugged. “I was inside, and I was bored, and I’ve heard about dancing in the rain, so I decided to try it, and it’s really fun! Do you wanna do it with me?”

“Thanks, but no thanks,” the Soupster replied, heading for his front door, eager to get out of the rain. “I’m a bit too old for that.”

“Aw, c’mon, Uncle Soupster!” Winter blocked his way, her big eyes staring at him pleadingly. “Mom says you’re never too old to have fun!”

Her words struck a chord in the Soupster. Out of the mouths of babes, he thought. Lately, he’d been wallowing in self-pity about getting older, but there was really nothing he could do about the aging process. All he could do was try to age gracefully – and enjoyably.

Submitted by Abigail FitzGibbon, Age 12

1212 total views, 0 today

Comments Off on Our Town – February 27, 2014

Our Town – February 27, 2014

| Cooking, Our Town, Small Town Stuff, Storms, Weather | February 27, 2014

The Soupster eats dinner despite difficulties.

The Soupster peered through the curtain in his kitchen as a February squall barreled in, dropping visibility to zero and dumping an inch per hour of heavy, wet snow.

“T’ain’t fit for man nor beast,” he muttered.

The Soupster was supposed to head to his friend Bob’s house for dinner with him and Janet, another friend. A crackerjack cook, Bob always crafted a feed the Soupster could feel himself remembering fondly for days afterward.

“But not tonight,” he moaned to himself. “Don’t make me go out tonight.”

The Soupster peered out the window again. The snow seemed to be falling faster. Bob’s house wasn’t far, but it was up a hill. Over his stomach’s protests, the Soupster let his body flood with a low-energy dysphoria.

Bob always went to so much trouble – it was rude to cancel because of a little snow. But the more the Soupster looked outside, the lower he felt. He actually felt physically ill.

He called Bob. “I’m just miserable about canceling,” he said, “but I can’t face the weather tonight.”

“It’s okay,” said Bob. “Janet just called and cancelled, too. She said she’s been sick all day. We’ll do it another time.”

The Soupster tried to sound wretched as he said goodbye. But as soon as he clicked off the phone, his dark cloud dissipated. He didn’t have to go out! He could hunker down with a book and a blanket and comfort food. The attractive choices seemed limitless!

But the wind had other plans. A big gust blew a hemlock onto an electrical line along the Green Lake Road. The Soupster’s house — with the rest of Our Town — went dark.

He grabbed a flashlight and lit two oil lamps. Next on the Soupster’s agenda was to find out what had happened and if anybody knew how long they would be out of power. He retrieved his portable radio, but the batteries were dead. So he put on his boots and coat and went out to his car to use the radio there. After a few minutes, the announcer – his station powered by a generator — reported the downed tree and city-wide blackout. No estimates yet.

Sitting in the car, the Soupster’s stomach spoke louder than his desire to hunker down. Cheese, chips, bread, salad, grapes – none of them needed cooking and all available a few miles down the road. His stomach convinced the Soupster to turn on his car and carefully, very carefully, drive to the supermarket where – due to generators — the store shone like an island of light.

As the Soupster trundled inside, he was struck by the number of people gathered around the front counter. A couple of shoppers walked the aisles and one of them turned out to be Janet.

“Feeling better?” the Soupster asked sheepishly and Janet nodded sheepishly back.

“As soon as I cancelled, I felt cured,” she said.

Just then, Bob turned the corner, clutching a bag of charcoal and can of charcoal lighter fluid.

“Well, lookey here!” he said, smiling. “You co-conspirators look pretty healthy to me.” He jiggled the bag in his arms. “Anyone for barbecue by candlelight?”

1166 total views, 1 today

Comments Off on Our Town – November 7, 2013

Our Town – November 7, 2013

| Darkness, Fall, Our Town, Seasons, Storms, Weather | November 7, 2013

The Soupster hunkers down.

The Soupster was not damp, but everything outside of the walls of his house couldn’t have been soggier. In Our Town, “Fall” might better be called “Thrown At” because the rain and/or hail of the season seems propelled downward by a force greater than mere gravity.

The Soupster was feeling bored and lonely, so he was happy when Carla called from Minnesota. “Bored and a little lonely, but dry,” the Soupster said when Carla asked how he was.

Carla chattered on about her busy kids and husband Josh and her going back to college and Josh’s new job. Then, she said “Oops, I’m getting Call Waiting, must be Josh or Rebecca, I’m supposed to pick both of them up. Can you hold?”

The Soupster did. With the phone to his ear, he wandered to the door to his back porch, where the portion covered by a fiberglass roof played wonderful rhythms as it hailed. The sound rose and fell like the aural equivalent of those little birds whose large flocks turn on a dime: sheets of sound, rippling and turning, rising and falling.

Carla came back on, “Sorry, Soupster,” she said. “That was Becky who needs another half hour before I get her. So you’re lonely and a little bored?”

“Actually, bored and a little lonely,” said the Soupster. “This is a rough time of the year, weather-wise.”

“Tell me about it,” said Carla. “I’m an Our Town girl. Remember, you just have to make it to Thanksgiving. Then the holiday lights go up and you start seeing friends and having too many places to go. And then it’s New Years and you start to notice the light coming back.”

“Encouraging, Carla,” said the Soupster.

“I hate to do this,” Carla cut in, “But I’m getting another call. Will you hold again?”

The Soupster did. The hail slacked off and a shaft of sunlight cut through the otherwise dark sky, came through the window and fell upon a small ceramic planter in the shape of a fish with big blue eyes and enormous crimson lips. Carla had presented the Soupster with the fish two decades earlier, after he helped her move. This was before baby Rebecca and even before husband Josh.

Next to the fish was a half-scale raven (or full-scale crow) carved out of wood. Steve Jessup gave the Soupster the raven after the Soupster took Steve’s parents out on his boat. An entire dog family, paper mache, stretched out on their paper mache couch – this was on the bookshelves – a gift from somebody. Above the dogs, tucked tightly, signed copies of all the books by Our Town’s writers over the years.

The Soupster touched the arms of his sweater – knitted by Giselle for his birthday. In the pantry, canned sockeye and an array of jams. All canned and arrayed by various friends.

If he wanted to, he could gaze on the paintings and sculptures tinted and carved in Our Town. Or he could pop in a CD cut by one of Our Town’s bands.

Carla came back on the line. “I can see why you feel lonely,” she said. “I keep abandoning you.”

“You know, I don’t feel lonely,” said a satisfied Soupster, taking in his surroundings. “Not anymore.”

1184 total views, 0 today

Comments Off on Our Town – August 15, 2013

Our Town – August 15, 2013

| Our Town, Relationships, Relatives, Seasons, Summer, Sunshine, Weather | August 15, 2013

The Soupster celebrates Sitka weather.

“No, Uncle Bob, I’m not aware,” said the Soupster into the receiver of his landline phone, “just how hot your weather is right now.”

That was an outright lie. In fact, the Soupster knew. He regularly enjoyed playing a weather game called “Too Hot!.” The game involved reading the list of daily temperatures in the newspaper or watching the highs and lows of major U.S. cities scroll by on television and stopping at each one 80 degrees or higher to think aloud “Too Hot!” Starting in the Spring, various cities would pass into the realm of “Too Hot!” until, by August, most of the country qualified. It seemed as though too many cities were getting “Too Hot!” too early in the year and staying simmering too late into the fall. The Soupster knew from his game that Uncle Bob’s area had been hitting triple digits all week – shattering records set in horse-and-buggy days.

“That sounds terrible, Uncle Bob,” the Soupster said to his mother’s brother’s description of clothing turning sweat-soaked in minutes, engines overheating on grid-locked streets, regional power outages making air conditioners and refrigerators useless.

Of all the things the Soupster loved about Our Town and knew he would miss the most, its mild summertime temperatures ranked tops. Our Town and its neighboring villages were maybe the last places in the country where the Soupster could live without ever having taken his air conditioner out of its box – it sat in the back of the Soupster’s closet like a survivalist’s cache of water pouches, freeze-dried Stroganoff and space blankets.

“What’s that, Uncle Bob?” the Soupster asked, registering what his relative just said. “Your car was stolen when?”

During the heat wave and power outage, Bob explained, making it infinitely more difficult for him and his wife to haul ice back to their house to try and save the food in the chest freezer. The lack of transportation made it impossible for the couple to go the lakefront or other cooler escapes. Their usual last resorts – the movie theaters and the International House of Pancakes — were dark because of the blackout. Police found Bob’s car finally – minus hubcaps and, oddly, head rests.

“Why doesn’t it matter anymore, Uncle Bob?” asked the Soupster, registering alarm. “What do you mean “Eminent Domain?”

Uncle Bob explained that he worried that a developer wanted to build condos right where his neighborhood stood. Meant jobs and higher taxes for the city. In New Jersey, one city condemned some people’s houses with exactly the same outcome in mind and the U.S. Supreme Court backed the city and the developer. The city always wanted more people. More people just meant longer lines, Bob complained – at the market, the bank – even to vote. Of course, floods and tornadoes threatened, too. Along with the pesticides in the groundwater.

“Uncle Bob, you really have got to consider moving somewhere you find more pleasant.” said the Soupster.

“Never happen, Nephew,” Bob said. “Where else are real estate prices this low”?

1072 total views, 0 today

Comments Off on Our Town – October 18, 2012

Our Town – October 18, 2012

| Guest Written, Lois Verbaan, Newcomers, Our Town, Relationships, Storms, Weather | October 18, 2012

“Emery!” the Soupster called, glancing up from the outboard he was hunched over.

The cyclist screeched to a halt. “Hey, Soupster! How’s it going?” she asked cheerfully.

“Havin’ trouble with my starter,” the Soupster said, standing up with one hand on the engine and the other supporting his lower back. ”And this drizzle ain’t helping my mood none,” he complained. “Where are you off to in such a hurry?”

“An inspiring, scenic location to write in the rain,” Emery announced.

“Write in the rain?” the Soupster echoed.

“That’s right, I’ve got a new notebook and pen that you can use in the rain,” Emery said.

“Yeah, I know the ones,” the Soupster nodded. “Official types of people use them.”

“And that’s why today I officially declare myself to be a local,” Emery replied.

“Why today?” the Soupster asked. “You’ve clocked up at least 5 years in Our Town, haven’t you?”

“Yeah, but as you know, becoming a local is a process,” she said. “It doesn’t happen overnight. First you’re a tourist, wandering down the main drag, wearing your new fur boots and hat.

Hang around a few more days and you realize you’re gonna need some rain gear. So, you get the cheapest you can find.

Then you start doing the wilderness thing. Before long, you discover you need gear that’s breathable, waterproof and indestructible, so you go back for more — more expensive this time.

You learn that cotton kills and start stocking up on wool and polypropylene. The variety of gloves, mittens and liners seems overwhelming at first, but you focus on your size and get a pair of everything. Wool, fleece, leather, Gor-Tex and neoprene all have a use.

Before you know it, you have your very own Alaska Sporting Goods Emporium. Then, just when you think you have everything you need for life in rainforest Alaska, your Xtra-Tuffs start leaking.”

The Soupster took over. “So you patch them with duct tape, till you realize that even duct tape has its limits. Time for new boots. The old faithfuls are converted to slip-ons, used for taking out the trash, quick trips to the grocery store and camping.”

Emery laughed. “So, just when I thought my emporium was fully stocked, I discovered a line of ‘Outdoor Writing Products for Outdoor Writing People’ that can all be used in the rain.

There are even these pens that’ll write under water, upside down and in temperatures ranging from -30 to 250 degrees Fahrenheit. They’ve actually been used on a manned space flight.

So, I’m now the proud owner of a new notebook and pen. My adventure barometer tells me that ice climbing is going to pale in significance compared with things to come,” Emery predicted.

“Let the adventure begin!” said the Soupster. “And congratulations on becoming a local,” he added, extending an oil-stained hand to shake her neoprene glove.

“But before you go, a quick question: do the words ‘cheechako’ or ‘sourdough’ mean anything to you?” he asked, a twinkle in his eye.

– Submitted by Lois Verbaan Denherder

1275 total views, 0 today

Comments Off on Our Town – November 17, 2011

Our Town – November 17, 2011

| Airport, Fall, Flying, Our Town, Seasons, Travel, Weather | November 17, 2011

“Ugh,” said Jeanne, a schoolteacher friend, as she plopped into the passenger seat of the Soupster’s car. “You hear the weather report?” she asked, as the Soupster pulled out and made for the airport.

“I’ve got plenty of time,” Jeanne continued. “Oh, ugh, my keys and my tickets,” she said, rifling through her purse. “No, it’s fine.”

“You know you show a lot of hubris flying on an airplane in Southeast Alaska with the weather this time of year,” said the Soupster. “You really tempt Fate.”

“Oh, pshaw, don’t tell me one of your flying-back-and-forth-between-Anchorage-and-Ketchikan-for-four-days stories,” said Jeanne.

“Actually, I was going to tell you a stuck-in-a-foggy-Juneau-airport-for-a-week story, but I now I won’t,” said the Soupster, mildly wounded.

“Look at the view from this bridge,” marveled Jeanne as she surveyed the harbor below where an outgoing float plane and an incoming longliner expertly slid past one another.

“I think Our Town is the prettiest when you are just about to leave on a trip and when you just return from one,” the Soupster said.

“Ugh, you would say that,” Jeanne said.

“Jeanne?” asked the Soupster. “Tell me again why I agree to do you favors like drive you to the airport?”

Jeanne leaned over and kissed his cheek. “Because you are my dear and kind friend,” she said.

They had reached the terminal and the loading/unloading area. Although Our Town is spared the big airport cops whose job it is to move you along in fluctuating big city airport terminal traffic (worst gig in the world?), the Soupster felt some responsibility to stay on task.

“Want me to walk you inside?” he asked.

“You’re sweet,” said Jeanne, as she pulled open the door to the car. “My bag is light. I’ll just let you go.”  She opened the back door of the car and grabbed her suitcase.

Another car pulled up ahead and several young women got out. One of them wore astounding boots. From the shin down they were the familiar neoprene brown of Sitka Sneakers. But from the mid-calf up, the boots were flocked with shearling wool. They looked like the offspring of Xtra Tufs and Uggs.

“XtraUggs,” said the Soupster, pointing.

“You’re right,” said Jeanne. “This bag is heavier than I thought!”

1503 total views, 0 today

Page 1 of 21 2
  • Absolute Tree Care

    by on August 14, 2011 - 0 Comments

    27 Years Experience. All Stages of Tree Work. Owned & Operated by Marshall Albertson 907-738-2616 907-747-7342 Sitka, AK 99835

  • Baranof Realty

    by on December 29, 2010 - 0 Comments

    Independently owned and operated Cathy Shaffer, Owner and Broker Tel: 907-747-5636 Toll-Free:  877-747-5635 Fax: 907-747-8128 315 Seward St Sitka, AK 99...

  • Bayview Pub

    by on December 29, 2010 - 0 Comments

    Bayview Pub's downtown location provides breathtaking views of Sitka Sound and offers the best independently brewed beer the NW & Alaska have to offer, ...

  • Channel Club

    by on December 28, 2010 - 0 Comments

    Steaks. Seafood. Large Salad Bar. Desserts. Free Transportation Call for Reservations 5pm-9pm 907-747-7440 907-747-7430 Fax 2906 Halibut Point Road Sit...

  • Davis Realty

    by on December 26, 2010 - 0 Comments

    Local Knowledge, Experience and Dedication! Nancy Davis, Owner/Broker Debbie Daniels, Associate Broker 907-747-1032, 866-747-1032 Toll Free Fax: 907-747-1...

  • First Bank

    by on December 25, 2010 - 0 Comments

    Power of Alaska Banking 907-747-6636, (888) 597-8585 Fax: (907) 747-6635 PO Box 1829 Lake Street 203 Lake Street Sitka, AK 99835 www.FirstBankAK.com

  • Gary’s Outboard

    by on December 24, 2010 - 0 Comments

    Locally owned and operated by Gary Den Herder 30+ years experience 907-747-9399 224-B Smith Street Sitka, AK 99835 www.garysoutboard.com

  • Harry Race & Whites Pharmacy

    by on December 21, 2010 - 0 Comments

    Harry Race Pharmacy, Photo & Soda Shop 907-966-2130 106 Lincoln Street, Sitka, AK 99835 White's Pharmacy 907-966-2150 705 Halibut Point Road (by Lake...

  • Kenny’s Wok & Teriyaki

    by on December 17, 2010 - 0 Comments

    Chinese & Japanese Cuisine Mon-Fri 11:30am-9pm Sat.-Sun. Noon-9pm Delivery Available Noon-9pm, $15 Minimum 907-747-5676 210 Katlian St Sitka, AK 998...

  • Little Tokyo

    by on December 15, 2010 - 0 Comments

    Sushi & Roll. Tempura. Teriyaki. Udon. Mon.-Fri. 11am-9pm, Sat. 12-9pm (Closed Sunday) Free Delivery - $15 Minimum 907-747-5699 907-747-4916 Fax 315 ...

  • Murray Pacific

    by on December 14, 2010 - 0 Comments

    Not Just a Gear Store Mon.-Sat. 9am-5pm Sun. 10am-4pm 475 Katlian Street Sitka, AK 99835 907-747- 3171

  • Pizza Express

    by on December 12, 2010 - 0 Comments

    Homemade Pizza & Authentic Mexican Food Dine In, Take Out & Free Delivery Mon-Sat 11am-9pm, Sun Noon - 9pm Free Delivery  Mon-Sat 'til 10pm 907-96...

  • Schmolck Mechanical Contractors

    by on December 9, 2010 - 0 Comments

    Plumbing. Heating. Refrigeration. Sales. Service. Repair. Residential. Commercial. Industrial. 907-747-3142, Fax: 907-747-6897 110 Jarvis Street (Behind t...

  • Sitka Ready Mix & Rental Equipment

    by on December 8, 2010 - 0 Comments

    Equipment Rentals 907-747-8693 907-747-6166 Fax 202 Jarvis Street PO Box 880 Sitka, AK 99835 www.sitkareadymix.com

  • Sitka Realty

    by on December 7, 2010 - 0 Comments

    Serving Sitka...A Family Tradition Candi C. Barger, Broker 907-747-8922, 888-747-8922 Fax: 907-747-8933 228 Harbor Drive Sitka, AK 99835 www.sitkarealty...

  • TMW Custom Auto

    by on December 5, 2010 - 0 Comments

    Auto Sales & Repair 907-747-3144 125 Granite Creek Road Sitka, AK 99835

  • Sitka True Value

    by on December 4, 2010 - 0 Comments

    Behind Every Project is a True Value Mon.-Sat. 8am-6pm, Sun 10-4:30pm 907-747-6292 815 Halibut Point Rd Sitka, AK 99835 http://ww3.truevalue.com/sitkatru...

  • University of Alaska – Sitka Campus

    by on December 3, 2010 - 0 Comments

    "Plug In" to Your Future 907-747-6653 800-478-6653 1332 Seward Avenue Sitka, AK99835 www.uas.alaska.edu/sitka

  • Whole Soup - October 18, 2018

    by on October 18, 2018 - 0 Comments

    Whole Soup is a PDF version of every page of the Soup, just as it appears in the printed edition.

  • Crossword - September 20, 2018

    by on September 20, 2018 - 0 Comments

    The Nat Mandel Sitka Trivia Crossword is a locally created crossword that has local clues and appears here as a pdf version that can be viewed or printed.

  • Our Town - October 4, 2018

    by on October 4, 2018 - 0 Comments

    The Soupster Lives!

  • Whole Soup - October 4, 2018

    by on October 4, 2018 - 0 Comments

    Whole Soup is a PDF version of every page of the Soup, just as it appears in the printed edition.

  • Whole Soup - September 20, 2018

    by on September 20, 2018 - 0 Comments

    Whole Soup is a PDF version of every page of the Soup, just as it appears in the printed edition.

What is Our Town?

Our Town is a bi-weekly column that tracks the life of the Soupster and his friends and neighbors.

The Soupster is a long-time resident of Our Town who seems to have all the time in the world to traipse around, visit friends and neighbors and get into minor scrapes.

The first Our Town was published December 22, 1999.

Read Our Towns published before February 2009 HERE.

Who is the Soupster?

The Soupster is a long-time resident of Our Town who seems to have all the time in the world to traipse around, visit friends and neighbors and get into minor scrapes.

Want to submit a piece for Our Town?

Contact us with your idea or completed piece. Our Town’s must be 450-500 words long, take place in or near Sitka and the Soupster must make an appearance, however brief.

Our Town Archives

Our Town Categories

Download the Latest Whole Soup

Download the Latest Crossword